Little League believes in the power of youth baseball and softball to teach life lessons that build stronger individuals and communities. For Richard Hemphill, League President of Silver Lake/Olneyville Little League in Providence, Rhode Island, this mission has as a way of life during his more than a decade of service as a Little League volunteer.
“It has always been important for me to make sure that both players and parents understand that there is life after sports, and that this game is going to help them learn how to live that life,” said Mr. Hemphill. “To me, as a coach and a League President, the most important role I have is to instill those life lessons in these children so they can take them home and grow as people.”
After growing up alongside his 10 siblings in a low-income household, Mr. Hemphill, a veteran of the Marine Corps, has been dedicated to serving the youth of the world, from teaching football and other sports to children in the countries he spent time in as a Marine, to his time as League President in Rhode Island.
“I never want to see kids grow up the way me and my brothers and sisters grew up,” said Mr. Hemphill. “I have a strong compassion for helping kids and if I see someone in need, I want to do whatever I can to help them out.”
After more than 21 years of service in the military, including four years in the ROTC, Mr. Hemphill made the move to Providence where he knew he wanted to help the youth of his community, so he stepped up and made the decision to volunteer as a coach with Silver Lake/Olneyville Little League.
“I always loved Little League because of how community-oriented it is,” said Mr. Hemphill. “When you know your neighbor and can go with them down to the field to play baseball or softball, then go back home with them, that’s something truly special.”
Since taking over as League President, Mr. Hemphill has been not only focused on getting young kids involved within the Little League program, but more about finding ways to teach those life lessons during their time with the league. As someone with a military background, and a vast knowledge of the history of the American Flag, one of the lessons Mr. Hemphill made sure to teach all his Little Leaguers® each season was a brief history of the flag and the proper way to fold it, even having two Little Leaguers fold it after each year’s Opening Ceremonies.
“After every practice, I talk to the kids about something that is going on in life,” said Mr. Hemphill. “A lot of people don’t know the history of the flag, so I thought it would be important for the kids to understand what they are looking at. At the end of every season, I gather all the players around the flagpole, and I teach them about the flag, how to raise and lower it, and have two kids take down the flag and properly fold it. That’s how we celebrate the end of the season.”
From learning about the fundamentals of the game to the history of the American Flag, Mr. Hemphill has remained focused on providing a memorable and rewarding Little League experience to everyone within his league and has played an instrumental part in writing the next chapter in the Little League story.
During National Volunteer Week, and all throughout the year, Little League International is proud to have volunteers like Mr. Hemphill who are able to step up and make a positive impact in their community.